LeBron James had a rather interesting night in Los Angeles on Wednesday. Not only did he commit (and get away with) one of the most blatant travels you’ve likely seen in a long time, but he also stirred up some emotions after he gave away his sneakers.
With the Lakers holding a significant lead against Utah in the fourth quarter, James was sitting on the bench and unlikely to play again, so he decided it was safe to sign his sneakers and gift them to a couple of young kids in attendance. A pretty nice and generous gesture, right? Right.
But after the Lakers came up with an emphatic defense stop in their own end, James enthusiastically celebrated on the floor sans sneakers. This apparently struck a nerve with the Utah Jazz announcing tandem of Craig Bolerjack and Matt Harpring, who called out James for his display of “disrespect” and said that it’s not “playground ball.”
This might come off as a somewhat salty response in any situation — if you don’t want another team’s star to celebrate shoeless, then don’t fall so far behind that he’s able to literally give away his sneakers during a game. But this comes off especially bad considering James was only in his socks because he’d done a cool thing for a couple of youngsters.
With all of the backlash, James took to Instagram to respond to the criticism and certainly wasn’t second guessing himself.
“People it’s the world we live in and you can’t let it ever stop you from your purpose in life,” James wrote. “Negativity, bad energy, hate, envy, etc etc will try to bring you down throughout your journey and it’s up to you on how you handle it.”
It seems that the Jazz announcers weren’t aware of the reason for LeBron’s lack of footwear until a bit later, but they still didn’t appreciate James’ show of support without the proper attire.